Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free = slavery.

I know I've said this before, but as I listen to Free (see previous post), I keep thinking about how the Internet is turning us into slaves. (See tag, "slavery.")

I keep hearing Chris Anderson lead me through all the various business models whereby entrepreneurs can plan their successes by embracing free. And the model that keeps bothering me is the one where we perform all the labor and someone else rakes in the cash.

When we use online: Google, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc., we do all the work. They provide the materials, from few to many, and we use the tools. The more who use, the better these sites become known and the larger they grow.

Does it really matter if I use Photobucket, or Picasa or Flickr? All I want to do is put my pictures someplace so I can share them with my friends. Are there other sites like Facebook? Probably, I don't really care because I don't want to tell my business to the world.

But what happens when Facebook develops a real dollar value? What happens to all the laborers who worked so hard to build Facebook into a place where everyone books his face? Do the people with the most friends get a cut of the money? What about Twitter? Will Ashton Kutcher take his 3,000,000 followers and leave to twittererer someplace else if someone doesn't pay up?

Is our labor worth anything, or do we just work the fields and never share in the bounty of the harvest? After all, someone feeds and clothes us, and rarely beats us; isn't that payment enough?

Has anyone ever thought to unionize Facebook users or Twittererers?